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September 2008

Meme, plus a reminder to register to vote!

Okay, Debbie. I held out for several days but now I am compelled to do this meme. Also via Mary Pearson, author of The Adoration of Jenna Fox.

Three jobs I have had in my life:

1. aerobics instructor (yes. me. for many years, in fact)

2. Birkenstock salesgirl (a featured job in my next book! The Treasure Map of Boys)

3. college teacher

Three places I have lived:

1. tiny tiny dorm room

2. scary Kentish town flat in London where I would wake up in the morning Saturdays because the landlord was standing over my bed asking for the week's rent

3. commune

Three TV Shows That I Watch

1. Mad Men

2. that's it. Mad Men.

3. sorry. I only watch Mad Men. And that's on DVD, so I'm not even au courant.

Three Places I Have Been

1. sensory deprivation tank

2. freak show

3. floating in the Colorado river in the middle of the Grand Canyon

oh, you mean PLACES

1. Grand Cayman

2. Venice

3. Atlanta

Three People Who Email Me Regularly

1. Lauren (her book comes out any day now! Read it if you dare)

2. Heather (btw, she took my author photo and made me look way foxier than I am in person. She could do that for you, too, if you're in the NYC area!)

3. Maureen (her emailz is very funnee)

Three of My Favorite Foods

1. Guacamole

2. Homemade cranberry loaf cake

3. Cheese Nips (superior, IMHO, to all other salty cheesy cracker things)

Three People I Think Will Respond

1. Maybe Ally? She could do a mini-blog.

2. Maybe John? Sometimes he is a sucker for a meme.

3. You!

Three Things I am Looking Forward To

1. Finally being settled in my new place

2. Fall. I love that start of school feeling, even though I'm not starting school

3. Taking a hot shower and then reading Terry Pratchett. (I have never read him until now! But I plunged into a late Discworld novel and I do think maybe I am missing some things…) 


Are you 18 yet? Are you REGISTERED TO VOTE? Because seriously, seriously, you should vote. Let your voice be heard. If you are not registered, do it today.There are huge populations of us (women, people of color) who could not vote for huge parts of our nation's history. Let's use our right, now that we have it. 

Me, I'm for Obama. But vote no matter how you're thinking. This is an important election coming up.

Preview Bliss

Preview Lauren Myracle's super-scary BLISS, right here.  A terrifying way to start your day. It comes out next week! 

In other news, I am moving house. That is why such a lame blogger. Boxes everywhere! I am on an anti-clutter campaign. A "man with a van" came today and hauled a huge vanload of boxes to Goodwill. 

Goodbye, foxy blue suitcase that is way too heavy. Goodbye, books I've read and loved!  Goodbye surf rack only used once! 

In publishing news, The Treasure Map of Boys (AKA Roo3) comes out next August. I am going to the NCTE/ALAN conference in November and I hope all you librarians and teachers and fellow writers will come around and see me. (Schedule on my website under appearances).  I am writing nothing at the moment. I am dealing with boxes! 

Food Meme

Debbi Michiko Florence tempted me yet again, this time with a food meme.

I love food.

It is a great joy of life.

I didn't cross anything out because I will try anything, just to try it. Even though I don't eat meat as a general rule.

The rules are:

1. Copy this 100-item list on your blog or site.

2. Bold the foods you've eaten.

3. Strike through foods you will not eat.

4. Post a comment on Very Good Taste (where the challenge originates).




1. Venison

2. Nettle tea

3. Huevos rancheros  I have never liked eggs. I just can't like them. Bleh.

4. Steak tartare  tasted it

5. Crocodile

6. Black pudding  tasted Polish blood sausage, isn't that close to the same thing?

7. Cheese fondue   I love cheese fondue!

8. Carp

9. Borscht

10. Baba ghanoush  I eat this all the time. I live in a neighborhood with many middle Eastern groceries.

11. Calamari

12. Pho

13. Peanut butter and jelly sandwich  I only learned to like these as an adult.

14. Aloo gobi   I eat this a lot, too.

15. Hot dog from a street cart 

16. Epoisses   I eat this as often as possible

17. Black truffle

18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes  Of course, at Passover.

19. Steamed pork buns    When I ate meats, I ate these a lot.

20. Pistachio ice cream   But meh.

21. Heirloom tomatoes  Hooray!

22. Fresh wild berries   Yes, blackberries and huckleberries.

23. Foie gras

24. Rice and beans

25. Brawn or head cheese

26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper

27. Dulce de leche  This is one of my favorite foods in the world

28. Oysters 

29. Baklava

30. Bagna cauda

31. Wasabi peas   I eat thse a lot.

32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl

33. Salted lassi (the dairy thing again)

34. Sauerkraut

35. Root beer float     I love me root beer

36. Cognac with a fat cigar

37. Clotted cream tea    Oh, yes! 

38. Vodka jelly

39. Gumbo

40. Oxtail

41. Curried goat

42. Whole insects

43. Phaal

44. Goat’s milk

45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more

46. Fugu

47. Chicken tikka masala

48. Eel

49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut

50. Sea urchin

51. Prickly pear

52. Umeboshi

53. Abalone

54. Paneer

55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal     

56. Spaetzle

57. Dirty gin martini

58. Beer above 8% ABV

59. Poutine (no, but it shows up in How to Be Bad!)

60. Carob chips     bleh. in the 70s my mother tried to pass these off on me

61. S’mores

62. Sweetbreads

63. Kaolin

64. Currywurst

65. Durian

66. Frogs’ legs

67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake

68. Haggis

69. Fried plantain

70. Chitterlings or andouillette

71. Gazpacho

72. Caviar and blini

73. Louche absinthe

74. Gjetost, or brunost

75. Roadkill

76. Baijiu

77. Hostess Fruit Pie

78. Snail

79. Lapsang souchong

80. Bellini

81. Tom yum

82. Eggs Benedict

83. Pocky

84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant (No, but have done a one-star: Po)

85. Kobe beef

86. Hare

87. Goulash

88. Flowers

89. Horse

90. Criollo chocolate

91. Spam

92. Soft shell crab

93. Rose harissa

94. Catfish

95. Mole poblano

96. Bagel and lox

97. Lobster Thermidor

98. Polenta

99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee

100. Snake 

Megan Kelley Hall's Disreputable History


What happens when a hazing prank goes terribly wrong and a young teenage girl goes missing?  Megan Kelley Hall is on the GCC with me and her debut novel, SISTERS OF MISERY, brings us inside a small, seaside town near Salem, where Maddie Crane is investigating her eccentric cousin’s disappearance. Her sleuthing ignites the wrath of the Sisters of Misery – a powerful high school clique, whose activities mirror the witch hunts of the seventeenth century. 

What more could you want? Evil. Cliques. Mystery. Witches. Seems like a perfect end-of-summer read to me. 
Anyway, she answered my questions related to The Disreputable History and her answers are interesting. You will learn what NOT to do if you have a crush, and how to scare your sister so bad she'll still be frightened 15 years later!


1. Tell me the sneakiest thing you ever did.

In the fifth grade, I was too afraid to talk to a boy I had a crush on. So, I wrote out and entire conversation of witty comments on the palm of my hand. What I didn’t expect was that my hands would sweat and that blue ink would end up everywhere: on my desk, on my clothes on my face.  Yup, I made a great impression on my crush that day.

Also, I don’t know if you would call this sneaky, but the most disreputable thing I ever did was go on a date with Steve-O from Jackass. This was way before he got on the show and was just a sweet (albeit hyper) kid from U Miami. I was a nice girl from Skidmore visiting some friends. Anyway, the date consisted of him taking me to Subway for dinner, watching him skateboard with his friends and then listening to a Jerky Boys CD in his friend’s dorm room. Now my deepest, darkest secret is finally revealed!

2. Tell me the sneakiest thing that happens in your new book. 

There are too many to tell. Those Sisters of Misery have lots of tricks up their Lilly Pulitzer sleeves.

3. Are you a prankster? Tell me a story.

My little sister will never let me forget about the time I hid under her bed when she was younger and as she hopped up into bed, I reached out and grabbed her foot.  She’s 29 and she still can’t go to sleep without checking under her bed. No exaggeration. Sorry, Jocelyn! 

I also remember freaking my family out when they were watching THE LOST BOYS when it first came out on video.  The part where the vampires jumped out of the fireplace and into the house that the Corey’s had barricaded themselves into, I timed it so that I jumped out from behind the Venetian blinds at that exact moment.  I think my dad threw a pillow at me.  I don’t know what was more frightening: the fact that I tried to scare my family half to death or the fact that my dad was going to protect his family by throwing a pillow.

4. Were you in any clubs or societies in high school? Did any of those club activities make it into your novels? 

The only activity that made it into my novel was the field hockey team I was on in high school.  I also grew up as a member of a Yacht Club very similar to the Crestwood Yacht club in Sisters of Misery (but that’s the closest I’ve ever gotten to being in a group like the “Sisters of Misery.” I hope I never come across a group of girls like that!

5. Do you consider yourself a feminist? Why, or why not?

I was a few credits shy of having a women’s studies minor in college.  I took the courses mainly because I was really interested in writing by women that weren’t included in the traditional English Lit classes. There seem to be more “dead male authors” than “dead female authors” in most high school and college curriculums, which is unfortunate.

6. How does your answer to question 5 show up in your new book?

The story revolves around three generations of women. The villains in the book are girls and women and, to some extent, the heroes are women.  Men are very much in the back burner of this story, although many of the decisions and fights and disagreements are BECAUSE of men.  Isn’t that always the way?

7. The club in my book is called The Loyal Order of the Basset Hounds. If you were to found a secret society, what would it be called, and what would its mission be? 

The Secret Society of the Sleepers, because we could all use a good night’s sleep. The world would be a much happier place if we all got more rest and relaxation.   



NY Times

Disreputablefinalsm_copyFrom the Department of Self-Aggrandizement: 

Yesterday's NY Times Review of The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks.  A quote or two from it, below.

" would be a mistake to underestimate this novel, or its protagonist...A homage to girl-power, the novel offers biting social commentary throughout — not the kind that deadens a story but the kind that gives it punch — and a protagonist who is independent and fearless, even contemptuous of others’ expectations.For girls who have experienced a double standard but lacked the precise words to name it, there will surely be many moments of recognition in Frankie’s story. She will challenge girls’ images of themselves, who they are in relation to boys and why."

Get Choked Up


This choked me up in the best possible way. Okay, it made me sob. You might want to turn the volume off, as it is just Whitney Houston singing. And you can ignore the sappy message at the end. But I think you'll like the video.


Thanks to Sara Zarr for the link: Oprah has a kids book club, and Oprah recommends The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks. 

The selection, compiled I notice with help from the American Library Association, includes:
Slam by Nick Hornby
You Know Where to Find Me by Rachel Cohn
Skulduggery Pleasant by Derek Landy
Paper Towns by John Green 
The Wednesday Wars by Gary D. Schmidt
Sweethearts by Sara Zarr
Generation Dead by Daniel Waters

and many others -- I am pleased to be in such company! And if you're wondering what to read this summer, you could do a lot worse than to check out this list.

Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez speaks her mind

Thanks to Coe Booth for this link. 

YA and adult novelist Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez, author of Haters and many other books (including the adult title Dirty Girls Social Club, which I loved), writes her analysis of Breaking Dawn as containing racist elements. The post contains plot spoilers.
I recommend you read forward in her blog after this post, as she provides additional evidence and responds to critics. 

Without having read Breaking Dawn (I read only the first Twilight book), I want to say that I support Valdes-Rodriguez in speaking out about what she sees, defending her viewpoint, and being unafraid of critics who either disagree with her or wish her to be "nice." I agree with her point that defending victims of prejudice and discrimination IS nice, and staying silent when we feel or witness injustice is no kind of path to take. 

Anyway, it's interesting stuff. Go see what you think for yourself.

Hollywood Starlet

August 9th, that's this Saturday, TRUE CONFESSIONS OF A HOLLYWOOD STARLET from the novel by Lola Douglas (AKA Lara Zeises) airs on Lifetime TV!  At 9 pm! Here are all the details. And here's an interview with JoJo, who's the star.

Lara is super cool -- the author of several novels including Contents Under Pressure and Anyone But You -- and in her secret life as Lola, she lets her gossipy, Star-magazine, glamour side come out, and the books are really, really fun. She's visited this blog lots of times: here's the boyfriend list she wrote for her heroine, Morgan Carter.  Her blog is here! And she'll be blogging live, the night the movie airs, giving her responses, thoughts, and the inside scoop. 9pm Eastern.

Here's the scoop on MORE Confessions of a Hollywood Starlet, the second Morgan Carter book, which just came out in paperback:

Just when Morgan Carter was falling in love with the simple life she'd built in Fort Wayne, Indiana, her true identity as an infamous Hollywood starlet was exposed. Now Morgan has a choice to make: return to her glamorous movie star existence--or stick with the wholesome life, and the new love, she's found in the Midwest.


Now without further ado, here are Lola/Lara's answers to my Disreputable History questions, in which she reveals how she used her sneaky nature to find romantic happiness, and explains why she's a feminist:

In my new book, The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, the heroine infiltrates an all-male secret society and stages ornate and controversial pranks on the campus of her boarding school. 

1. Tell me the sneakiest thing you ever did. 

Junior year in high school, I saw this boy in the hallway that looked like Brad Pitt. I fell instantly in smit. So, my best friend Candace and I launched a covert mission to find out everything there was to know about him. We even broke into his file in the E2 staff center. My sleuthing wasn’t for naught; we ended up becoming really close and even dated for a while. 

2. Tell me the sneakiest thing that happens in your new book. 

My protagonist, Morgan Carter, has to deal with Harlan Darley, a former co-star of hers, spreading rumors that they’re dating. While the press is busy spilling ink about “Marlan,” she’s trying to deal with the fact that this guy stole her virginity in a date-rape situation several years ago. I guess that’s more than sneaky – it’s insidious. 

3. Are you a prankster? Tell me a story. 

I wish I were more of a prankster! The closest I got was calling my mom one April Fool’s Day when I was in college, fake crying and telling her I was pregnant. (I wasn’t.) She still hasn’t forgiven me. 

4. Were you in any clubs or societies in high school? Did any of those club activities make it into your novels? I was a theater brat, which was very useful in terms of MORE CONFESSIONS. My other activities were of the dorkster variety, like being on the Academic Bowl and Mock Trial teams. I can’t see myself mining that for material anytime soon! 

5. Do you consider yourself a feminist? Why, or why not? 

God, yes. I’m fiercely independent, and have been since I was a teenager. I moved out at 17, put myself through school twice, and bought my own home before I was 30. For a long time, I didn’t know if I wanted to get married, or if I’d find someone I could see myself married to. Then I met my fiancé Joe. One of the things I loved best about him in the beginning was that he shared my belief that we didn’t need someone else to “complete” us – that we were complete already. I see our relationship as the whipped cream on the sundae of my life, not the sundae itself. 

6. How does your answer to question 5 show up in your new book? 

The ending. I don’t want to give it away, but I get a lot of angry e-mail about what happens to Morgan in the end. But it’s true to the character, and it definitely reflects my beliefs about the role of romantic relationships. 

7. The club in my book is called The Loyal Order of the Basset Hounds. If you were to found a secret society, what would it be called, and what would its mission be? 

The Sisterhood of the Golden TiVo, charged with dictating good television tastes to the masses.

6 word Memoirs

So: there was this awesome book of 6 word memoirs called NOT QUITE WHAT I WAS PLANNING (click here for my earlier post about it, including my on 6 word memoir and a really awesome video) and now there is going to be one for teens by teens, to be published by Harper Collins, which published HOW TO BE BAD. You can submit your own memoir here at SmithTeens.  Do it now!